Car accidents are renowned for causing whiplash injuries, and these should always be taken seriously no matter how insignificant they may at first appear, because of the areas which are affected. It should also be remembered that the effects of whiplash may take weeks or months to fully manifest, thus it cannot be assumed no problems exists just because no neck or upper back pain is felt immediately following the accident.
Understanding A Whiplash Injury
A whiplash injury refers to a group of injuries that occur as a result of the sudden, violent whipping motion of the head in an accident. The whip can happen in any direction – back-forward, forward-back, side-side, or anything in between. Various injuries can result, including damage to the supporting muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues in the neck and upper back. A host of related symptoms can then kick off from these, many of which, to the untrained eye, can appear completely unconnected to the original trauma.
Whiplash injuries most often result in a sprain-strain of the neck. This sprain occurs when the muscles and ligaments that help support, protect, and restrict excessive movement of the vertebrae are strained or stretched beyond their normal limits. The joints in the back of the spine, called the facet joints, are covered by ligaments called facet capsules, seem to be particularly susceptible to whiplash injury. The nerve roots between the vertebrae may also be stretched and become inflamed. Spinal discs between the vertebrae, which are essentially ligaments, can also be torn, potentially causing a disc herniation or worse fractured or dislocated.
While whiplash may be the most common injury, it may not present itself immediately. These complex injuries can manifest in a wide variety of ways, including neck pain, headaches, fatigue, upper back and shoulder pain, cognitive changes and low back pain.
The director of the Spine Research Institute of San Diego, Dr. Arthur Croft, says, “Nearly 1 out of 15 adult Americans suffers from the annoying and sometimes debilitating long-term effects of a whiplash injury, usually in the form of neck stiffness and pain.” Fortunately, several studies regarding relief for whiplash injuries demonstrate Chiropractic’s effectiveness in offering a very high level of help. Here are the conclusions of four separate studies sited by the director of the Spine Research Institute:
- In a study published in Injury, 93% of 28 patients showed significant improvements following Chiropractic care. The protocol utilized to provide relief included spinal manipulation, stretching and ice therapy.
- A Study published in the Journal of Orthopedic Medicine concluded, “Whiplash injuries are common. Chiropractic is the only proven effective treatment in chronic cases.”
- Finally, two separate studies published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics confirm Chiropractic benefits. “For chronic spinal pain in general, when compared to traditional medical approaches, Chiropractic has generally been shown to be more effective.”
Road to Recovery>
Although prevention would be the best solution, if you are in an accident remember seeing a Chiropractor immediately after a collision can speed your road to recovery. Chiropractic care utilizes manual manipulation of the spine to restore the normal movement and position of the spinal vertebrae. Manipulation involves the Chiropractor gently moving the involved joint into the direction in which it is restricted. It is by far the single-most effective treatment for minimizing the long-term impact of whiplash injuries, and may be coupled with massage therapy, trigger point therapy, exercise rehabilitation and other soft tissue rehabilitation modalities.
So, if you or a loved one have been in an accident, make a chiropractic appointment as soon as you can. Remember that everyone in the car should be checked and letting the Chiropractor know the specific details of the accident will aid in the speed of your recovery.
For Your Health,
Dr. Frederick Savard